Struck on an odd planchet, this 1855 Flying Eagle pattern cent is an affordable rarity

Market Analysis: Notable lots from Steve Brewer’s collection in Kagin’s March auctions
By , Coin World
Published : 04/04/17
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One of the more focused collections to come to market in recent memory was Steve Brewer’s group of Flying Eagle cent patterns, which sold at Kagin’s March 9 to 10 auctions.

The collector was attracted to the series because of the relative value of the various patterns, especially when compared to the popular (and expensive) 1856 Flying Eagle cent pattern that is regularly collected as part of the regular issue series (the piece cataloged as Judd 180).

He said of the much rarer but less expensive Judd 184 variety, “I’m no math genius but how can something with a population of around 2,000 pieces cost twice as much as one with a population of 12 or so?”

Flying Eagle cent: The Flying Eagle cent is one of the shortest-lived series of United States coins, having been produced for circulation only in 1857 and 1858. How much are Flying Eagle cents worth?

Here is one of three pattern cents we profile in this week’s Market Analysis that showcase the diverse collecting opportunities in this field. 

The Lot:

1855 Flying Eagle large cent pattern, Judd 169, Proof 60

The Price:


The Story:

Part of the challenge of the Flying Eagle cent patterns is that so many different varieties are dated 1854 to 1858. The eagle on this Judd 169 1855 Flying Eagle pattern for a large cent has a more pronounced muscularity and curved neck when compared to James B. Longacre’s adopted design for the Flying Eagle cent.

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This example, graded Proof 60 by Professional Coin Grading Service, was described by Kagin’s as potentially unique as struck on an oroide (copper-tin) planchet.

One dollar Federal Reserve noteThe fight against the paper dollar has been renewed: Inside Coin World: Newly introduced legislation on Capitol Hill is not the first attack on the paper dollar. Calls for its elimination have been voiced since the 1970s.

The die pair used for Judd 169 was used to strike patterns in various compositions, including numerous alloys of copper-nickel, pure copper and bronze (Judd 167 to 171a). The catalog entry suggests that the golden hue to the surfaces indicates it is oroide, with no nickel and slightly more tin than a bronze striking.

Keep Reading About Brewer’s collection of Flying Eagle pattern cents:

Undated Flying Head Large centOne of the coolest pieces from Steve Brewer’s pattern cent collection doesn’t have a date:  Brewer offered some lessons for collectors: look for unusual things that make a coin unique, seek out the finest known and look at true rarity, watch out for “gradeflation,” and don’t forget to have fun!

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